Fresh Off the Boat

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Fresh Off the Boat TV Poster Image
Fierce memoir about Asian family makes fresh, sweet sitcom.
 Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 18 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Race, class, education, and other potentially tricky topics are addressed, often in a joking manner, but the overall theme is positive and hopeful. Characters struggle to find their identities, and perseverance is a major theme. There's also a strong family dynamic throughout. Parents may have plenty to discuss with kids after an episode. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Eddie Huang is a bit rebellious, but he's also a straight-A student who loves, respects, and spends time with his parents. His tough attitude reflects a desire to be liked, and often backfires on him. He's also dismissive with his brothers, telling them to "shut up." The parents want the best for their kids and work hard to create success for the whole family; Each of the Huangs is a well-rounded character who's trying his or her best in a challenging situation. 

Violence

Occasional scuffles among school kids; fighting generally takes place offscreen. 

Sex

Women are occasionally shown in revealing outfits; references to dating. Some discussion of sexuality among Eddie and his friends. 

Language

Rarely "bitch" and "slut," lots of "hell," the occasional "dammit," and ethnic slurs such as "chink." 

Consumerism

Frequent references to real celebrities, particularly hip-hop artists: Nas, Notorious B.I.G. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Restaurant customers drink wine. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fresh Off the Boat is a family sitcom about a Chinese-American family and is based on the bestselling memoir by restaurateur Eddie Huang. In a light and often sardonically sweet manner, the show tackles many challenging subjects: race, class, and ethnicity. Characters react in unpleasant ways to various aspects of the Huangs' life; ethnic slurs such as "chink" are used. Parents may want to watch with children to discuss sensitive topics. The young actor playing the fictionalized Huang, who fancies himself a tough guy like his heroes Tupac and Notorious B.I.G., says things such as "What the hell?" and "Shut up!" to his brothers in front of his parents (who scold him). 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byWisdombody February 23, 2015

Fun and "fresh" but for older kids

I really enjoyed the first 4 episodes with my 10 year old daughter. In the 3rd episode entitled "The Shunning", there was some dialogue about an adul... Continue reading
Parent of a 11 year old Written byzestiemom May 4, 2015

Not the best role models

As an American of Chinese descent, I can honestly say that much of what is depicted in this TV show about the Huang family and their experiences is accurate,alt... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMaya16 July 19, 2015

Not crazy about this show

Most people in my family like this show but I do not. I could watch kid shows and laugh a bit more. I can't stand the theme song that is probably why I do... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 19, 2015

Gets more mature in later episodes, but still funny

You turn on the tv. Oh look! It's a sitcom. Isn't it true that most of the shows on tv are sitcoms? Seriously. What happened to GOOD sitcoms?They have... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the bestselling memoir of the same title by culinary entrepreneur Eddie Huang, FRESH OFF THE BOAT presents a fictionalized version of the Huang family: 11-year-old Eddie (Hudson Yang), younger brothers Emery (Forrest Wheeler) and Evan (Ian Chen), dad Louis (Randall Park), mom Jessica (Constance Wu), and Grandma (Lucille Soong). When we catch up with the Huangs, they've just moved from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Florida, where Louis has opened a Western-themed restaurant. The restaurant isn't doing that well, and neither are certain members of the Huang family. Jessica feels lost among the Barbie-doll-like neighborhood moms. Emery and Evan's school hands out stickers instead of grades. And Eddie is struggling to fit in. The Huangs feel out of place in their new home, but if they stick together, they'll get through it somehow. 

Is it any good?

On the network of Modern Family and Black-ish, this sitcom seems both completely at home and -- the title says it best -- fresh. In less deft comedic hands, plot lines such as the mother concluding that her sons need after-school Chinese education could come off as stereotyped and offensive. Instead, the jokes feel warm and lived-in and often have a pleasantly absurd twist: When the mother, Jessica, goes to Eddie's principal to complain about the quality of her son's education, the daft principal talks up the school's lone after-school offering: farm animals that come to be petted. In fact, "I have a baby chicken on my lap right now," he says. Eddie's face lights up as he reaches over to pet it. 

It's a sweet moment, and there are a lot of them in Fresh Off the Boat, with actors who are appealing enough to carry them off. Eddie's pre-puberty swagger is adorable instead of annoying; Jessica seems like a real mama bear instead of a Tiger Mom stereotype. Even Grandma gets her moments to shine. This is a great show for whole-family viewing; lively discussions of what happened on the show may well follow. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the basis behind Fresh Off the Boat's humor. It's a "fish out of water" comedy. Which others can you name wherein people find themselves in situations where they feel out of place? 

  • What does the title of this show mean? Which "boat" is being referred to? If you haven't heard this phrase before, look it up online. What do you think about the title? 

  • How is the audience supposed to feel about the Huangs? Are we supposed to laugh at them? With them? 

  • How do the characters in Fresh Off the Boat demonstrate perseverance? Why is this an important character strength?

TV details

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